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1.7.1 Management of Case Transfers in Children's Social Care


This protocol sets out the management and best practice for case transfers between teams within Islington Children's Social Care.


This chapter was substantially revised and updated in June 2015 and should be re-read in full.


  1. Principles Underpinning the Transfer of Cases
  2. Case Transfer Standards
  3. Case Transfer ICS
  4. Permanency Tracker
  5. Case transfer between CIN to CLA
  6. Transfer from CIN to Independent Futures
  7. Families First: Step Down / Closure Procedure
  8. Transfer from CLA and DCT to Independent Futures
  9. Transfer of Young People (age 16 and over) Remanded into Local Authority Care to Independent Futures
  10. Transfer of Looked After Young People from Disabled Children or CLA Teams to Transition Team

1. Principles Underpinning the Transfer of Cases

  • Children and their families should experience the minimum number of transitions in receiving our services;
  • Wherever possible cases should follow the same case-worker to ensure the maximum continuity;
  • Where the transfer of existing cases to new workers is unavoidable, the children and families must be given the maximum information about impending changes, at the earliest possible opportunity;
  • In sibling groups, the children will have the same social worker, unless it can be demonstrated that this is not in the child's best interest;
  • Wherever possible, the siblings of a child who becomes looked after will be allocated the same social worker, even if the other children are not looked after themselves;
  • All disputes between Operational Managers shall be referred to their respective Heads of Service for final decision.

2. Case Transfer Standards

The following tasks should be updated and/or completed prior to transfer:

  • Chronology must be up to date;
  • Case notes must be complete, up to date and finalised;
  • Parenting assessment (single assessment);
  • Profile and risk assessment;
  • Record of case management decisions and supervisions;
  • Agreed relevant outstanding tasks in ICS work tray;
  • Accurate demographic information (in demographics tab on ICS);
  • Signposting of relevant documents (including court statements) on ICS;
  • Notification of first child care review or first child protection conference to incoming team as early as possible;
  • Placement planning meeting (prior to start of or within 72-hours of placement);
  • Placement plan (within 5 working days);
  • Initial health assessment (within 28 days);
  • Personal education plan (within 10 working days);
  • Pathway plan - Part 1 (where relevant);
  • Contact planning meeting;
  • Case summary reviewed and updated;
  • Agreement for funding for any expert assessments/interventions detailed in the care plan should be agreed prior to transfer;
  • Before transferring the case should be quality assured and signed off by the transferring manager to ensure all outstanding work has been completed.

The following case transfer procedure is a best practice example and social care teams should aim to meet this standard when cases are being transferred between teams and services.

3. Case Transfer ICS

Team managers should ensure that the ICS guidance on transferring a case is used. Cases should be submitted by the team manager to the CLA work tray if it is likely a child will become looked after either under s20 or through court proceedings and at week 9 of the PLO process if the intention is to initiate care proceedings. This will then flag up to the CLA service there is a potential transfer. After the transfer date has been agreed the team manager will complete the transfer process as detailed in the guidance.

4. Permanency Tracker

Team Managers in CIN are responsible for initiating the tracker and ensuring it is up to date before they transfer the case to CLA. Thereafter CLA managers are responsible for ensuring this is kept up to date. Cases will not be accepted by the CLA service until the tracker is complete.

Click here to view Case Transfer Procedure (CIN to CLA 1-4) table.

5. Case transfer between CIN to CLA

A CLA manager should be invited to all Legal Gateway/Planning Meetings (LPM). A member of one of the 3 CLA management teams will be on duty each week and there will also be a backup manager. Unless the operational manager decides otherwise, the case will be allocated within the team that is on duty and attends the LPM.

If a decision is made to enter PLO the team manager allocated the case in the CLA service can be consulted during the process, where appropriate, about the plan for the child. By week 9 if the plan is to initiate care proceedings there should be close liaison between the CIN and CLA managers to enable appropriate in out by CLA into the plan. Where the child is considered to be on the edge of care and care proceedings are likely, a looked after child social worker will be co-allocated at week 9 and assist in a consultative role. Where this is not possible a Deputy Team Manager will assume this role.

If care proceedings are likely to be initiated the CLA team should be invited to the PLO review meeting at week 9. Initial statements and care plans should be sent to the CLA manager before submitting them to court and the plan should be agreed. CLA managers should aim to identify a social worker in their team to allocate the case to at this point to enable effective joint working.

Cases will either transfer at the first hearing or before the first Looked After Review depending o the circumstances of each case. Transfer meetings should take place before the first hearing or review. Section 2 outlines the tasks to be completed prior to transfer. Any deviation from this should be confirmed in writing and form part of the transfer meeting minutes.

If the case is transferring at the first hearing the CIN social worker will be responsible for drafting the initial court statement and care plan, seeking input from the CLA social worker. In these circumstances the CIN social worker will be responsible for completing the CLA care plan and review paperwork. The CLA social worker is responsible for organising and completing the PEP and health assessment. The CIN social worker and manager and CLA manager (and social worker where possible) will attend the first hearing. The CIN social worker will be responsible for setting up the CLA review in consultation with the CLA social worker and the CIN social worker should attend the first review.

If the case transferring at the first statutory review the CIN social worker is responsible for completing all necessary paperwork outlined in section 2, the CLA care plan and review paperwork, the child’s PEP and organising a health assessment. Both the CIN and CLA social workers should attend the review.

Cases which are highly expected to become looked after may be directly allocated into the CLA service outside of the above framework with the agreement of the operational manager in CLA. In these circumstances the operational manager will agree in consultation with CIN and CLA managers what tasks out of section 2 will be completed by CLA, for example, CLA care plan and review paperwork. The CIN team will remain responsible for completing the statement and care plan for Court where relevant and ensuring their work is up to date.

Cases where children are looked after will remain in the CIN service if the plan is for them to return home within three months.

CIN cases in the CLA team will be transferred to CIN if the CLA worker leaves and the case is not is court proceedings.

6. Transfer from CIN to Independent Futures

All 16 and 17 year olds accommodated under section 20 will initially be case managed in the CIN service but will be transferred to Independent Futures once it is clear that they will be entitled to a leaving care service. In exceptional circumstances if there are substantial safeguarding concerns the case will transfer to the CLA service and the procedures in section 5 followed.

Where a 16 or 17 year old becomes (or remains) a looked after child they become entitled to leaving care services. If they leave care after their 16th birthday but before they have been in care for more than 13 weeks since they were aged 14, they are classified as Qualifying Children. If they remain in care such that their total time looked after since the age of 14 exceeds 13 weeks, they become Eligible Children. If an Eligible Child leaves care before the age of 18, they become a Relevant Child. An Eligible or Relevant Child becomes a Former Relevant Child when they turn 18.

When a child of 16 or 17 becomes looked after the CIN service should notify the IF team manager by email, including notification of the date of the first CLA review.

The young person will be allocated a social worker from within the IF team and may also be allocated a PA.

The allocated social worker in the CIN service will complete Pathway Plan Part 1 within 13 weeks of the young person becoming looked after. Part 2 should be completed by the social worker with the assistance of the PA by the time of the second CLA review at 4 months. Case responsibility should transfer to IF following this review.

The CIN service and IF will also agree on the date of a meeting between the relevant Deputy Team Manager from and the allocated worker from each service. This four-way meeting should take place either on the same day as the review (but not during the review) or within two weeks of the date of that review (before or after). The purpose of this meeting is to co-ordinate joint working on the case, including delegation of responsibilities of tasks to be undertaken and timetable for the case transfer to IF. Please refer to the Roles and Responsibilities Protocol for further Guidance.

The CIN service will arrange a meeting with IF to transfer the case if this is considered necessary to resolve any outstanding issues. The meeting should confirm that all statutory requirements have been or are being met. Managers in CIN should QA the case before it transfers to ensure all outstanding tasks have been completed.

Click here to view Case Transfer Procedure (CIN to IF) table.

7. Families First: Step Down / Closure Procedure

Purpose to:

  • Manage the process of stepping up / down and case closure so that there is transparent process and evidence based decision making;
  • Manage the transition between services;
  • Handover and share information and thresholds in a suitable and relevant way so that:
    • Consent is given by families to share and handover information from assessments and plans;
    • The family does not have to tell their story again.


  • Step up cases often arrive with valuable information recorded in the CAF which should be used by social workers in any new assessment;
  • Step down should not be viewed as a default process and should only be used where a family requires targeted support;
  • If there is a decision that a case needs to be stepped down into an alternative targeted service and there is a concern that without any intervention from that service there may be a safeguarding issue, there is to be a 2 week overlap to allow the family to engage. If the family do not engage the CIN team needs to make a decision on whether the case should be closed.

1. Step Down

  1. As involvement in the case demonstrates that concerns are being addressed and improvements are being evidenced, these factors should be raised at the CIN Review meetings / TAC meetings by the social worker so progression is monitored and noted;
  2. When considering step down, the line manager should ensure that all actions are completed by the social worker and evidenced on ICS;
  3. The line manager should take into consideration past involvement, concerns, assessment findings and risk assessments in recommending that a case be stepped down;
  4. The recommendation to step down should be taken by the first line manager to their line manager for ratification;
  5. The decision to step down needs to be clearly recorded on ICS by the first line manager with evidence based reasons why, with a plan that there should be a CIN Review meeting / TAC or professionals / network meeting to discuss the step down to get views and make a plan for continued service involvement if needed;
  6. There should be a discussion between the social worker and the line manager about who should chair the meeting used to discuss step down;
  7. The step down meeting should involve current agencies and to be involved so that information is shared, consents are passed on to the agency you are stepping down to, timescales set for referrals / joint visits etc. There also needs to be clear documentation of any issues outstanding that may need to be followed up and included in any future plans;
  8. The social worker should advise the family that a step down is being considered;
  9. The family should agree to the step down, be given clear guidance as to why this is being undertaken and provided with the plan;
  10. The case can then be stepped down and letter referrals / letters completed by the social worker;
  11. Recording made on ICS to this effect should be made by the line manager making the decision to step down the case;
  12. A clear transfer date from the social work team to the team “stepped down to”, is to be agreed.

2. Step Down

In cases where it is unclear which service is more appropriate or where there is a disagreement between services, the social worker should discuss this with the line manager and resolve, if possible. If it is not possible, the social worker should submit the CAF to the Team Allocation Meeting (TAM) and advise the Chair, if possible.

3. Closure of Cases

The steps noted in 1 should also take place when considering closure of a case.

Stronger Families cases should not be closed until a discussion has taken place between the Team Manager and the Stronger Families Practice Development Manager.

8.Transfer from CLA and DCT to Independent Futures

The IF team manager will consult the weekly looked after children list on Team Space on a monthly basis and allocate a personal adviser from within the team by the date of the young person’s 16th birthday.

The case holding team manager should also notify the IF team manager by e-mail of a young person who will require a personal adviser. The e mail should be sent when the young person is 151/2 years old.

At the start of the joint working period a joint meeting should take place between the social worker, the personal adviser and their respective managers. The supervising social worker, or key worker and the allocated worker from the virtual school should be invited. Business support is responsible for setting up this meeting. Roles and responsibilities will be agreed at this meeting and dates set for future meetings. Further guidance is available in the Roles and Responsibilities Protocol.

The allocated social worker should arrange a time to introduce the personal adviser to the young person. At that meeting the personal adviser should explain their role in supporting a young person to prepare for adult life and in helping the young person and their support network to plan for the young person's future. Both the social worker and personal adviser remain allocated to the young person whilst the young person remains looked after.

Following the initial 4-way meeting, the social worker, personal adviser and either the DTM of IF or the CLA service should meet at the mid-way point between each statutory review at a minimum. The minutes of these 4-way meetings should be recorded by the DTM chairing the meeting and put on ICS under: "Supervision case management" after they have been agreed by the DTM who was not present at that meeting. DTM’s from the CLA service and IF should alternate chairing these meetings.

The social worker retains case responsibility for young people until they cease to be looked after. To facilitate joint working on the case the social worker and personal adviser will be in regular communication and should both maintain the young persons' ICS case file up to date.

The social worker will be responsible for completing part 1 and 2 of the Pathway plan. The YPA should be consulted with in respect of Part 2 and should make a written contribution in relation to accommodation (including staying put), education, employment and training, preparation for independence and financial support.

Immediately prior to a young person's 18th birthday the social worker should hold a final TAC meeting with all relevant parties to discuss the transfer of responsibility and to serve as the formal transfer/handover.

Team Managers should quality assure the young person’s pathway plan prior to the transfer of the case to IF.

At the point a young person ceases to be looked after, the entire case responsibility transfers to Independent Futures.

The outgoing team should always offer an exit interview to the young person.

9. Transfer of Young People (age 16 and over) Remanded into Local Authority Care to Independent Futures

By virtue of being remanded a young person becomes looked after under s21 of the Children Act 1989. If the total period of being looked after for this young person is over 13 weeks since the age of 14 as a result of this period of remand then the child becomes an Eligible Child. As such they will be entitled to a PA from IF as well as their Social worker in the CLA team.

Once the remand period has ended, if the decision is for them to remain looked after (provided with accommodation under s20) then they remain Eligible and are entitled to a PA from IF. If they were subject to a care order they will continue to be looked after.

In all other circumstances once the remand has ended then they will cease to be looked after and become a Relevant Child under the CLCA 2000. At this point the CLA team transfer case responsibility (under procedures detailed above) and IF will become the key team and the PA becomes the allocated worker.

If the young person receives a custodial sentence then they cease to be looked after (unless there is a care order) and become a Relevant Child under the CLCA 2000. At this point the CLA team transfer case responsibility and IF will become the key team and the PA becomes the allocated worker.

If a young person who becomes CLA under s21 as a result of a remand receives a custodial sentence before they have accumulated a total of 13 weeks of CLA status since the age of 14, then they become a Qualifying Child under the CLCA 2000.

Under the Former Looked After Children Regulations (FLA) the CLA team is required to complete an assessment to ascertain whether they require any support from the LA whilst they complete their sentence. Under the CLCA 2000 the child is entitled to assistance, support and befriending from the IF team. So, the CLA team should complete the assessment under FLA Regulations and then ensure that the case is notified to IF to provide a service to the child as a Qualifying Child.

If a young person who becomes CLA under s21 as a result of a remand is discharged from custody before they have accumulated a total of 13 weeks of CLA status since the age of 14 it may be decided that they should continue as Looked after Children under s20. If so, they will retain their CLA social worker and they will should be allocated a PA by IF when they become Eligible Children (i.e. accumulate a total of 13 weeks of CLA status since the age of 14 and are still looked after at the age of 16).

If a young person who becomes CLA under s21 as a result of a remand is discharged from local authority care/secure estate before they have accumulated a total of 13 weeks of CLA status since the age of 14 and it is decided that they will return home then they cease to be looked after and are not treated as Qualifying Children. As such, the CLA team would need to decide if they remain Children in Need or whether the case can safely be closed to the CLA service.

10. Transfer of Looked After Young People from Disabled Children or CLA Teams to Transition Team

The Transition Team support disabled young people 14 to 25 years who are eligible for adult learning disability services to plan their transition to adulthood and to adult services. The Transition CLA social worker holds cases of disabled young people 14+ who are looked after and who will be eligible for services from ILDP as adults.

When a looked after young person likely to be eligible for services provided by the Transition team turns 131/2, the DCT or CLA team manager should notify the Transition team manager. Where it is unclear if a young person is eligible, further enquiries will be made by the transition team manager who will make a final decision. Case transfer arrangements will be made at the earliest opportunity after the young person's 14th birthday taking into consideration their needs and what is in their best interest. The timetable and key activities to be completed prior to transfer will be agreed between the team managers.

Case transfer standards set out elsewhere in this policy should be followed in full for these cases too.

However, where there are younger non-disabled looked after siblings in the family group, the disabled looked after young person will remain allocated to the social worker in DCT / CLA unless there are exceptional circumstances why it is in the young person’s best interests to transfer to the Transition CLA social worker. A decision to split the sibling group in this way will need the approval of the Assistant Director. Where a young person remains allocated in DCT or CLA, the Transition CLA social worker will work jointly with the allocated social worker to support planning for the young person's future including attendance at looked after reviews.

In exceptional circumstances, where it is not possible to transfer the case for organisational reasons (e.g. lack of capacity in the transition team), the case will remain allocated in DCT or CLA and the Transition worker will work jointly with the allocated social worker as above.